Coat to Wear

October 30, 2009

Goodness me, it grows chilly, doesn’t it? Do you know where it wasn’t chilly? NEW YORK. A better post will advance happily forward when I’ve got my film developed but in the meantime, how are your respective necks? Feeling the wintersome air? Hmm. We can help.

Giles Deacon has made a dress for a rabbit. The Cadbury’s Caramel Bunny, to be precise. He’s also made some limited edition scarves for the same rabbit. (Why a rabbit would need clothing, is beyond us, but we’re always a fan of Animals Doing Human Things).

Here’s a picture of the scarf:
v2_scarf-3+shad

It’s quite nice, isn’t it?

We have two of these to give away for free free free. If you want to enter the competition, please send an email to bluebirdsaresonatural@gmail.com with a picture of your favourite animal wearing human clothes. It can be a link to google images, or you could physically draw it if you’d rather. Either way, you want the scarf, you need to give us anthropomorphism.

Comp. closes this time next week i.e. 6th November 2009.

xxx
BBASN

To be sure, to be sure

September 16, 2009

stormboots
Favourite boots, meet the blog, blog, meet my favourite boots. I will start by saying that this post is specifically directed at those readers who, like me, are sensible (unrealistic), and strong-willed (stubborn), and rarely spend more than €20 on a pair of shoes. Fact is, while they might glitter and shine amongst the dusty tat in a Capel Street charity shop, get C.S.I.’s Calleigh Duquesne and her fancy equipment on their case and she will uncover a layer of glue that has all but given up on sticking stuff together. V. criminal and v. tragic, I know, right? Totally. Over the past year I have thrown out three pairs of FAV EVER shoes after the cobbler’s €2 job lasted less than a day. I’m sure other people have had more success going the professional route but when these two boots started flapping away at the toe I figured it was time for a D.I.Y. After one quick google I decided on Stormsure via this shop on eBay.

stormsure
I followed the instructions to the letter, was quite generous with the glue, and the 15g tube was enough for the two pairs of boots, the soles of which had become completely detached. So far, there has been no loosening around the edges, but it remains to be seen how a wet Irish winter will affect the result. However, for around the €8 mark, I think this was an excellent solution.

Oh Calleigh (2.10 below, yes).

Katie

P.S. Apologies to the 16,000 people who visited this blog for the big Crop Circle Debate ‘09. We do actually talk about other things. Sorry, I mean, we only talk about other things.

I Wish I Could Be You

April 10, 2009

While clearing up my hard-drive this morning (snore), I found the below article on Tribute Bands I wrote for the September issue of now online-only Analogue Magazine. While it’s in print somewhere, it’s not on the internet. And, obviously, the internet is the only place that counts. Read on, dear readers. (BTW, does anyone remember when Katie and I used to write actual blog posts? Nah. Me neither.)

Tribute Bands
Ailbhe Malone

I’m sitting on a couch in a stranger’s living room. His son comes in and gives me a cup of tea, and a Kit-Kat. I’m flanked on each side by two members of the Folsom Five, a Dublin-based Johnny Cash tribute band. They’re dressed in turned up jeans and their hair is carefully quiffed. They also have cups of tea and Kit-Kats. I was meant to be sitting in on a band practice, only Chico- the main man- hasn’t shown up. I’m severely disappointed. By the sounds of it, Chico is fantastic. Originally Chico was in a Bob Marley tribute band, and then decided to ‘branch out’. Apparently, he’s from ‘the North Side of Dublin, and isn’t as tall as Johnny Cash, but as soon as he’s onstage he puts on the accent and keeps it up afterwards. When we’re onstage, it’s like we’re straight out of Memphis.’ Sans Chico, the other members make up another band- the rockabilly outfit Aces Wild. When the film ‘Walk the Line’ came out, the enterprising Chico suggested forming a Johnny Cash tribute band, and the Folsom Five was born. The ’Five perform songs from all eras of Cash’s career- focusing mainly on the San Quentin and Folsom Prison Sets- with a twenty minute interval, during which they play well known rock and roll songs as Aces Wild. Presumably Chico has a cigarette break at this point. The band has yet to have a negative response to any of their gigs- provided they stick to better-known songs. ‘We spent ages practicing Cash’s version of ‘Hurt’ and then played it at a gig. Dead, it was. You could hear tumbleweed blow across the room. We had to cut ‘Hurt’ in the middle just to keep the tempo going. There’s a band in Scotland and they do anything in the Johnny Cash voice. Union Avenue they’re called. They do ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ or ‘Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me’. Ireland’s not ready for that. Ireland’s very closed-minded.’

Ireland may not yet be ready for such crossover hits as the above, but it’s very accepting of tribute bands, indeed, as are most countries. With ticket prices ever-rising, and tours skipping over cities, countries and continents, a tribute band offers the chance to hear the music of a loved band, in a live setting. Tribute bands first came to prominence in Australia- due to hefty waits between live appearances by the real deal; groups such as the Australian Pink Floyd filled the gap in a prog-rock-hungry market. The first tribute bands are generally acknowledged to be the Rolling Clones (formed in 1979) and the Bootleg Beatles (1980). However, tribute bands are coming to the fore in their own right. This summer, the Tribute to Music Festival was held Verbania Football Stadium, Italy. The festival was a week-long celebration of tribute acts, including appearances from Oasish, Rollin’ Clones and One Night of Queen. Glastonbudget, held on Turnpost Farm, Leicestershire, is the UK equivalent of the Tribute to Music Festival. The combined pun factor inherent in both festivals would support a Christmas cracker joke-writer in mince pies for 100 years. Notable samples include- Fake That, Stereotonics, Razorlike and Pink Fraud. The overt punning can sometimes lead people astray though. Earlier this year, Lez Zeppelin (an all-girl Led Zeppelin tribute band) caused the music press to frantically backpedal. Lez Zep were slated to play at Bonnaroo Festival, only, several music sites-including Associated Newspapers, Telegraph.co.uk and NME.com- in their excitement, failed to read the small print, and presumed it was Plant and Co. What a difference a letter makes…

Not that it matters, of course, that Lez Zeppelin are all female. The important thing in the world of tribute bands, it turns out, is the sound. Kevin Doogan, of Metallica tribute band Frantica, explains- ‘I saw a really good Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band a few years ago, and they looked nothing like them. If you closed your eyes it was like you were at the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s the person’s preference.’ The toss up continually arises between looking like the band, and sounding like the band. It seems though, that it’s an easy choice. Though most groups consider their appearance to a certain degree, a tribute band’s ultimate goal is to recreate faithfully the live experience of the band in question. This often involves more work that one’d think. For example, there are little differences between the studio album and the live album. A studio version of song X fades out in the end, but when playing live, fading out isn’t an option. Therefore, one has to find out what happens when it is played live. It’d be easy to dismiss members of tribute bands as fanboy/girls, and brush off their obsession with capturing exactly every precious note, but to do so would belittle the amount of professionalism and perfectionism that they show. With Frantica, ‘we want to get it note for note right, for our own enjoyment, and for the show. People notice the difference live. I don’t want to have a laugh; I want to get it perfect. We spend ages trying to learn all the small bits, the little harmonies, the bits that you could leave out, but you should leave in because the song wouldn’t be the same without it.’

Bearing this in mind, perhaps the most difficult aspect of playing in a tribute band is trying to re-create, live, the stage presence of the band emulated. Especially when it’s a band as big as U2. Rattle and Hum was the first U2 tribute band in Ireland. Half of them taught in my secondary school. Rattle and Hum that is. Not U2. My entire secondary-school experience is rooted in watching the Business teacher and the English teacher pretend to be Bono and Larry Mullins, respectively, in various venues around Dublin. Except they weren’t pretending, they were being. It’s hard to explain. When they were onstage, we were no longer watching our teachers play music at the weekend, we were watching U2. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief inherent in watching a tribute band play, but, really, atmosphere is key. It doesn’t matter how much they look, or sound like the genuine article. If it doesn’t feel the same, it’s always going to be ersatz. How then, do Rattle and Hum recreate the experience of a live U2 show? Michael ‘Bono’ Malone answers: ‘The stage presence is always a challenge because your average pub/club/venue is never going to offer the magic that is an arena like Wembley/Croke Park etc. What we try to put across is a scaled down U2 gig a bit like those MTV unplugged sessions (that were not unplugged) that were all the rage about 15 years ago.’ Uisneagh ‘Larry’ Treacy adjoins- ‘Obviously we don’t have a big stage like they have. We’re limited like that. You try to bring across an energy that the audience can react with. The best gigs are where the audience engages with the band. You try to emulate them [U2]. Your audience dictates what your set list is going to be. We never do exactly the same set. We get a feel for the kind of gig and the audience. You tailor your set to whatever the audience is going to be like. You try and get a mixture of everything. Even if we don’t like it we have to play it. You’d be expected to play them. It’s not necessarily an artistic thing, in order for you to survive as a tribute band you have to sell yourself.’

Aye, there lies the rub. The audience always wins. Like every other band, tribute bands get fed up with their material too. This is- as much as anything else- one of the reasons that tribute bands are so keen to pick up on new material as soon as possible. Frantica have ‘already got the bones of a few songs from the new album (‘Death Magnetic’). Because we’re restricted to stuff that’s already been written, when new stuff comes out it gives us a challenge. I enjoy learning new songs. I reckon people will definitely expect it. If you do play it, it’s going to be a bonus.’ Equally, Rattle and Hum are ‘looking forward to U2’s next album in the spring.’ Though in the case of the Folsom Five there’s no case of any new material surfacing, they content themselves by playing original material in the Aces Wild set in their shows. Are all members of tribute bands failed musicians then, yearning to play their own music, but with the time or the talent? While every band-member that I’ve interviewed had, at some stage, been in an originals band, to make such a claim would be false and unkind. Without sounding cloying or disingenuous, what shines through, above all else, is a genuine love of music. It’s more than a hobby, it’s a lifeline. Despite long hours, ungracious audiences and poor pay, none of them see their bands packing up any time soon. Music is a constant thread in their lives. Be it that of U2-‘we’re all very proud of what we’ve achieved in the band- we never set out to last that long. Rattle and Hum has been a constant thing in all our lives. Every day we just think about the next gig.’ Or Johnny Cash- ‘If we got bored doing it we’d knock it on the head. Even if we weren’t in the band we’d jam anyway. We’re always thinking about it. We’d ring each other about three times a week, before and after the practice, with new ideas or things to change’. Or Metallica- ‘I’ll always be playing music, definitely. I stopped for a while and I had to go back playing. I stopped, but my guitar was always there. I will always play.’

x
Ailbhe

ABC

March 13, 2009

I’m in the middle of writing my dissertation. To say that it’s tedious would be a massive understatement. So, to make it more amusing, I’m trying to fit as many song lyrics/band names into it as possible. Kind of like this but less obvious.

So, I give you, Tennesse Williams meets Top of the Pops.

1. Rather than conveying pomp and circumstance, Stanley describes a tawdry, faded affair:
This Tawdry Affair

2. However, the past is a grotesque animal in A Streetcar Named Desire.
The Past Is A Grotesque Animal

3. And in a Streetcar Named Desire, the past is something better best forgotten,
Better Best Forgotten

.

Only 5,000 more words. Who else will feature?
x
Ailbhe

The Living Dolls

February 12, 2009

My Granny has a fur coat. Actually, both my Grannys have a fur coat [plural of Granny- Grannys or Grannies?]. One each like. Not one to share. Obv. I’ve had my eye on these coats for a while. Alas, I’m at the bottom end of The Will on both sides, so the odds are not in my favour.

lolo
The other day I was wearing a big fake fur hat that I found in my dressing up box (see smug looking photo above, taken by the adorable Loreana Rushe.) Someone came up to me, and asked ‘Are we allowed wear real fur now?’ Firstly, I pointed out that my chapeau was, in fact, made from old carpets/teddy bears, then I answered that I didn’t have a problem with wearing vintage fur at all at all. I’m sure it sounds callous, but the animal is dead already. And has been dead for at least 20 years. If I was an animal that had become a fur coat, the least I’d want would be some longevity.

It seems that protesting against fur is an easy cop-out, like vegetarians who eat fish. I understand that there is massive amounts of cruelty to animals in the fur industry, but, equally, there are very strict sanctions in place also- especially in Ireland. Here’s the rub, it’s a business, like everything else. Just as there are battery hens, and organic chickens, there are good furriers, and bad furriers. I honestly don’t know how I feel about wearing a brand-new, freshly-killed mink coat, but I do know that it’s unfair and ignorant to slam an entire industry while still wearing leather shoes (like the protesters outside Barnardo Furs the other day).

x
Ailbhe

BTW, can’t wait for the comments to this. ‘OMG UR so INSEnsitive. H8 u and ur blg will nvr read it agn…’ Let the backlash begin.

Living For the City

January 31, 2009

It has been far too long since we deconstructed a silly silly pop music video. Truth been told, there’s been a dearth of videos worthy of prolonged dissection. All this has changed though. Step forward, Shontelle.
Shontelle: ‘Tshirt’

0.06: Shontelle is mysterious. She only has feet and lips. This is probably all you need to be a pop star, truth be told.
0.09: Shontelle is flexible. This is also important in popstardom. Note all the clocks. You’ll get nowhere in life if you’re not punctual.
0.19: I’m baffled. Has she forgotten her keys?
0.25: Her friends are waiting for her. Despite all the clocks, Shontelle is running late. Bad form.
0.28: It’s not her fault. It’s her pesky front door.
0.47: Shontelle lives in a barn. A barn with the biggest lift known to man.
0.52: A barn with no furniture. Only clocks. And one armchair.
0.56: I take that back. There’s also a bed.
1.00: Wait! She’s not a popstar! She’s….an ARCHITECHT! This is one of the best fake jobs in a video since Britney as an airhostess in ‘Toxic’.
1.13: As an architecht, she can afford fancy fish for her barn- which, she probably designed herself.
1.16: Shontelle is a conscientious fish owner.
1.32: Her friends are getting a bit fed up by this stage.
1.40: Being a business woman. At her desk.
1.48: Opening the post. But it’s actually quite late in the day to be doing this. Her friends are waiting. It’s probably the weekend. Why doesn’t she look at the MANY MANY CLOCKS SURROUNDING HER?
2.13: Bitch doesn’t care about her iphone. She’s got work to be doing.
2.39: Now is not the time to be looking at shirts, Shontelle. Either do some actual work or go and meet your friends.
2.50: Far be it from me to question how architechts get dressed, but who puts on a tshirt first, THEN takes off their dress?
3.00: The tshirt probably needs a wash. She’s been smelling it a lot.
3.15: At last, inspired by the manky tshirt, Shontelle unleashes her set square and gets her architecht on.
3.22: Until someone who looks more like an actual architecht enters the barn.
3.27: ‘Dude. Why are you at my archi-desk?’
3.33: ‘Cuz I iz popstar yo’

Ailbhe

sap_logo1

Thank you for the lovely birthday messages. I had the loveliest birthday, not a word of a lie. Yes indeed, it was a birthday, and it was the loveliest. Yeah so sometimes I can be such a sap. For example, when I’m watching Ghost Whisperer and I well up because Jennifer Love Hewitt is crying, when I’m watching Ghost Whisperer and I cry because a soldier regains his memory and realises he’s a hero and not a coward, when I’m watching Ghost Whisperer and I sob while a reformed drug addict is reunited with the ghost of her abandoned son who died as a result of multiple bee stings (all blog posts need a solid theme yeah?), and when sappy, sentimental quotes on silly internet sites take my breath away just for a split second. If I were to describe my super-sappiness as a fire (stay with me here…) then you could say that Tumblr is the…coal…log…firelighter…ah yes fuel…Tumblr is adding fuel to my sappy fire by introducing me to some lovely words to kick off my new year and my new age. Some of them aren’t sappy and silly and some of them you may like too.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
-Neil Gaiman

“Hello babies. Welcome to earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round wet and crowded. Outside, babies, you’ve got about 100 years and there’s only one rule that I know of, babies. God damn, you’ve got to be kind.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

tumblr-21

And the very specialist bestest one…

Alvin Joiner & Xzibit

Now where did I put that inner cynic of mine…

katie-lilga

Faits Divers, Take Two

December 1, 2008

1. Did you miss our Swopshop? Would you like to see it televised? Good-oh. Go here on Wednesday, at 12:30. We feature on the Culture show- you’ll have to wait about 15 minutes into the show though, so maybe run and make a cup of tea? Don’t worry if you miss it, it’ll be repeated every two hours for a 24 hour period. Also, photos of the night have surfaced on the Rough Gem blog.

2. Do you like Swedish tweepop? I do. So does Erik Hallden. Lucky that, because Swedish tweepop is how he makes his living. He also has swell lyrics like: ‘I may not be Harry Belafonte/But my kisses taste like Del Monte’.

3. Indiecator have made a Christmas record! Oh my yes! A review will follow mid-week, along with a special free track. Until then, have a goosey gander at the specially commissioned tracks from the very top of the Christmas tree.


Sugababes
Catfights and Spotlights
Universal

‘Catfights and Spotlights’ could equally have been named ‘Heartbreak and High Heels’. It’s a record by a band that is right on top of their game, and are well aware of it. ‘You on a Good Day’ ticks all the right boxes. There’s a chugging bass line, a mini vocal breakdown in the bridge and the obligatory call and answer in the middle 8 that demands that the beat be brought back, a.s.a.p. ‘No Can Do’ boasts a surprising chorus, and a smashing fade-out. ‘Sunday Rain’ borrows a little from the Moonlight Sonata by way of ‘Back to Black’. There will probably be some kind of moody video involving lots of walking.

The lyrics save the record from wallowing in nostalgia, and from leaking into the current spate of 60’s throwbacks. Roughly half the tracks were co-written by the ’babes themselves, and it’s easy to tell which. There’s no erudition, no clever similes and no Coward-esque puns. Lines like ‘Let me tell you bout a boy who’s going la-la tryin an get my ya-ya’ and ‘I read a magazine last night/All our issues came to light/ I memorized it piece by piece but I guess it’s not that easy’ distill segments of the advice pages of Cosmo into bite-sized, standard backbeat-ed chunks. Is it fair to say then, that this could be a concept album, chronicling a Saturday night out? It follows a group of friends getting ready to go out (‘Girls), who bump into an ex (‘No Can Do’), which leads to a domestic by the side of the dancefloor (‘Side Chick’), and ends in a Deep Meaningful Conversation in the chip shop (‘Can We Call a Truce’). It’s only a pity that they felt compelled to sellotape on a tacky duet with Taio Cruz at the end, which means that instead of the album ending on an acoustic, lovelorn downbeat, it fades out through over-produced synths. Mutya wouldn’t have let that one slide.


Yes yes, as promised. More record reviews for your reading pleasure.